Holness says he has addressed issues of corruption; Phillips disagrees

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has expressed confidence that the public has seen where he has acted appropriately in addressing issues of alleged impropriety and corruption surrounding his Administration.

“Generally, the public would see and would know that I have acted proportionately and appropriately to address issues of impropriety, issues of lack of accountability (and) issues of corruption,” he said in response to a question on what would nudge him to remove ministers from his Cabinet who are believed to be involved in corruption.

The Holness-led Government has been dogged by several issues of corruption relating to institutions like Petrojam, the Education Ministry and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) among others.

Earlier, Holness told the nation while at the national political debate, that the discretion to remove a minister from Cabinet was entirely in his hands.

The traits, he said, that would allow for the removal of a minister would be non-performance, dereliction of duty, lack of accountability, lack of responsiveness, breaking of policy, and breaking the secrecy of Cabinet.

But in relation to impropriety, malfeasance or corruption, Holness said: “Firstly, I have to be satisfied that there is enough, even without an independent authority investigating and pronouncing, I would have to satisfy myself that there is enough (to remove them from Cabinet).”

He continued: “Once I am satisfied, I will act. Further actions sometimes require that I await the pronouncement of independent bodies that are authorised to make definitive statements on corruption.”

However, Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, was not in agreement that Holness has addressed issues of corruption in his Cabinet, explaining that it took eight months after the issue of Petrojam arose for former Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley to resign.

He further argued that: “There was no action taken against Ruel Reid until we in the People’s National Party (PNP) raised the question. The following day he was removed from Cabinet.”

Phillips went on to suggest that there are a number of other ministers who are still in the Cabinet who have been “found wanting”.

He said “They seem to have become part of a holding cell at Jamaica House. It reflects a lack of commitment to the principles of anti-corruption, and it reflects a failure to be bold and decisive in showing leadership to the country.”

Holness did not have a chance to rebut those statements that were made by the PNP president.